Thursday, 3 August 2017

Women over 60 Going to Work!

Oh, calamity, women are going to have to work past the age of 60! I can hear the chorus of thousands of women who, like me, have had to do so. In fact, at the age of 79 I am still working.

Where do policitians and journalists get the idea that this is something new? 'Twas ever thus.

It wasn't until the mid-1980s that, when I was in my mid-40s, that I found a job that paid quite well for women. Mind you, it still wasn't the equivalent of men's salaries. Fortunately there was some overtime which I utilised very well. Some saved and some used on travel (when I made copious notes and took loads of photographs). By the mid-90s I had developed Repetitive Stress Injuries in my wrists, right arm and shoulder and lost my job. Did I get compensation? No way - I was working for a large City solicitors. They very generously gave me early retirement with a partial disability pension that didn't even pay the rent.

No chance of retirement for me. So I learned how to become a journalist and here is where the travel paid off. Yes, I was an internationally recognised journalist. Then tourism changed but by this time I had learned how to write novels. Which is why at 79 I am still able to work.

I am one of the lucky ones. Bearing in mind how diabolically low women's wages were for most of the 20th century, women weren't able to save for the future. This was especially hard for single women. No chance of buying their own homes so we are still renting. And rents these days are through the roof. I have to continue working because my State pension only pays my rent.

Instead of bemoaning the fact that in future women will have to work past the age of 60, we all think it is about time the Government did more to help the rest of us. Certainly past the age of 70 no one should have to work to supplement their income. 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Listening to the Band

What do you do on a wet summer's afternoon? I'd guess most people watch telly. Not me on a Sunday in July. Nor did the people in the almost full auditorium at the Alexandra Theatre in Bognor Regis. We were right royally entertained by the Royal Marines Association Concert Band led by Lt. Col. Chris Davis, OBE.

The concert opened with, naturally, with the National Anthem, followed by a Fanfare. During the first half we were treated to some marches, a Rossini overture and some solos. Jon Yates (former Professor of Trumpet at the Royal Marines School of Music) played the beautiful 'Through the Eyes of Love' and ex-Army lady Lisa Lyster gave us the evocative 'Home Away from Home' on her flute. Both tunes that you will recognise. At the end of the first half we had the music from John Williams for ET.

Following the 20 minute interval (during which much ice-cream was consumed) the second half opened with the overture to Lawrence of Arabia. Can you remember the opening with the heart thumping sound of the timpani? On this occasion Connor Lyster (son of Lisa) wielded the drumsticks. It really was a thrilling opening and Connor looked as if he enjoyed bashing seven bells out of those big brass kettledrums.

This second half had an equally varied programme of music from the Big Band sound to Vaughan Williams. And we had a solo from Conductor Chris Davis - on his electric violin - the exquisite Ashoken Farewell.

Then we came to the Finale. The Evening Hymn and Sunset, a Tribute to the Armed Forces then we all stood and waved flags whilst singing Land of Hope and Glory.

I am now looking forward to next year's concert at the Alexandra Theatre.

For details about the Royal Marines Association Concert Band - and to buy by their CDs and souvenirs - do visit their web site at

Most importantly all the monies raised go to Charity.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

South Downs Murder Mysteries

When creating a series of books it is important to give it a name. With my Cleo Marjoribanks series it was easy. I could not ignore the lady! But the South Downs Murder Mysteries seems to have caused confusion for a couple of people. So, let me explain.

The first book, Antiques in the Attic, took place in a fictitious small town at the edge of the South Downs. In the second book, Model Murder, the victim lived in a large house located near this same town. The third book which seems to be causing the problem - Who are the JCs? - has three major locations: A fictitious coastal resort just south of the South Downs, the original town up on the Downs and Southampton.

Once having given the series a name you can't change it otherwise your fans won't recognise it as the same series!

Hope I have cleared the matter up.


Thursday, 6 July 2017

'Ghosts in the Guest House'

An excerpt from the third Cleo Marjoribanks Murder Mysteries - a morning when all did not go according to plan!

Our morning followed the same pattern as the previous day until I decided that I'd had enough of dress shops. 'I want to go and look in that shop that sells Lladro,' I said as we came out of what seemed to be the tenth dress shop.
'You like it?'
'Love it.  I think it's time I added to my collection.'  There was a screech of tyres.  ‘What the.'
A large car had pulled up beside us and both passenger doors flew open.  A couple of men got out.  One grabbed me and the other went for Evita.
Afterwards we agreed that men really should learn not to attack from the rear.  My heel and full weight went down on my assailant's instep.  He yelled and loosened his hold.  I turned and put a knee into his family jewels at the same time swinging my bag at his head.
Then I saw the gun in the driver's hand - he was leaning across the passenger seat to the open door - and continued the bag swing.  Gun dropped and he held his wrist.  Good.  Hope it's broken.
I turned to Evita who was screaming fit to bust and her attacker was trying to hold her and put a hand over her mouth.
'Heel!' I yelled.
Message understood.  It was his turn to yell.  Imagine a drill bit in your instep.  Blimey!  We were doing some serious damage here and passersby were just watching.
'Call the cops!  Policia! Film it!'  I yelled in English and Spanish.
My handbag came into use again on Evita's bloke's head as she struggled to get out of her shoe - it was well and truly embedded in his foot.
Then a shot rang out.
'Everybody down!' I yelled.  No idea why.  Should have yelled 'Run', then they wouldn't have been showered with glass from the shop window.  He'd shot a mannequin - no blood spilled, thank goodness, other than from a few cuts.
Evita got free of her shoe, I just swung out in every direction with my bag and, praise be, along come the cops.  All bells and whistles, so to speak.  Our two attackers scrambled to try to get back in the car which was now moving.  They almost made it but the driver just wanted to escape and put his foot down.  The car shot forward, doors swinging, which hit the other two knocking them to the ground.  The car?  It collided with a cop car.
It didn't take too many policemen to bundle the three dumbos into police cars while other members of the force shuffled the gawpers away and, as more officers arrived, finally penned them behind barriers and started trying to interview them.  I can guess quite a lot of phones were used to take photos or film the action and it looked like some people were showing them to their interviewers.  But I bet a lot weren't and those'll be going onto some social networking sites.
Evita and I were handed into the back of separate police vehicles and I got out my phone to press David‘s speed dial number.
'Excuse me, lady, are you alright?' A plainclothes officer flashed his identity card at me.
I replied in Spanish.  'I am but my bag isn't.  Incidentally, the young lady who is with me,' I pointed at the other cop car, 'is only seventeen.  And she is the one they were after.'
'Momento.' He left and went to the other car to return almost immediately with a tearful and limping Evita - only one shoe.  Good job she was crying as it meant she had most of her face covered with a couple of tissues.
While that was going on I picked up the phone. 'David, you still there?'
'Yeah.  Where are you?  What's 'appened?'

'Someone tried to take Evita.  We fought them off.  We're now in a cop car.' and I gave him directions.  Then put the phone away. Just in time.  'Come here,' I invited Evita who got in beside me and literally fell into my arms.

As some people didn't like the 'cockney-speak' I have now edited it out!

Friday, 23 June 2017


This is the opening of 'Who Are the JCs?', the third of the South Downs Murder Mysteries. The locations for this book, as well as a town on the South Downs, include the town of Merian (on the coast) and Southampton.


As Ruth Goldstein was helped by the waiter to take her seat at the table the gentleman on her left greeted her. 'Good evening,' and gave her a bright smile, his hazel eyes twinkling.
She returned his greeting, then concentrated on the menu. Eventually the table was full and the waiter took their orders, after which the eight diners introduced themselves.
Ruth, knowing from experience that they might never see each other again after this meal said, ruefully, 'I'm sorry, but I probably shan't remember your names.'
The lady on her right chuckled. 'Don't worry about it. None of us will.' She then lowered her voice, 'Bit of a waste of time really.'
'True,' Ruth agreed. 'But at least we don't have to wear name badges.'
'Now that would be truly awful. Like being on a school outing.'
The Wine Waiter reached their table and, after he had ordered a bottle, the man on Ruth's left turned to her. 'You don't drink?'
'No. Never have, although my late husband did.'
'I'm sorry to hear that he is no longer with you.'
'Thank you. He died four years ago. Your wife is not with you?'
'I'm divorced.'
'Oh dear. So many marriages seem to fail these days. I'm sorry, but what did you say your name is?'
He gave her one of his charming smiles. 'Don't worry about it. I'm Josh. Like you I am on my own on this cruise.'
'And you are retired?'
'Not really. I don't have what is called a day job. I work for myself and have staff to look after the business.'
Conversation ceased whilst they consumed the first course and Ruth looked around the table. Two couples she thought were probably in their mid to late sixties. Two ladies together. Sisters or friends? Probably in their seventies. Josh, wearing heavy gold rings on both hands, an expensive suit and silk tie, whom she thought was in his mid-sixties. Young enough to be her son. And she wondered what they all thought about her.
What they saw was a dumpy figure in a mid-range beige and green dress. Her short iron grey hair was well cut and showed her round face off to advantage. She had never worn much make-up and now that her sallow skin was wrinkled she wasn't tempted to overdo it.
Josh return to their conversation. 'I noticed that as you were being shown to the table a couple of waiters greeted you.'
'Yes, I've been on the Oriana before.'
'I guessed that. This is my first time. I usually go on Cunard but thought I would try P&O for a change.'
Conversation then became more general until coffee when they discussed what they had chosen to do that evening.
'What are your plans, Ruth? Going to see the show?' Josh asked.
She shook her head. 'Not tonight. I'm very tired. I'll have a read and an early night.'
'So you will be fresh to begin your cruise tomorrow. Very wise. Where would you advise for breakfast?'
'This dining room. The Peninsular,' she reminded him of its name.
'So I might see you in the morning.'
At that point there was movement around the table as the diners prepared to leave.

'Milly, I am so lucky to have met such a nice gentleman,' eighty-three-year old Ruth Goldstein told her younger friend as they sat at the kitchen table in Milly's kitchen on a dull September morning.
'It certainly sounds like it. Very nice to have a bit of company. How lucky he was on your table the first night.'
'Wasn't it?' Ruth was recently back from her latest cruise. Since the death of her husband she had taken to cruising in a big way. 'You know I love my cruises. I get to meet some really delightful people, see places I've never seen before. And, of course, there's my dancing.'
Milly Stewart had met Ruth and her husband, Reuben, at the Assembly Rooms where they and other friends went regularly to the ballroom dances. Following a few months of mourning Ruth had been persuaded back to dancing. 'They have dancing every evening on board?'
'Most evenings. Even if the dance hosts aren't there, there is some music playing for us.'
'Which ship was this one?' Milly couldn't keep up with the ship's names. All she could remember was P&O and Cunard.
'The Oriana. My favourite. It has a proper ballroom. Some of the other ships I've been on have dancing in the Atrium which isn't very nice.'
Milly decided not to go there. She had heard Ruth's complaints several times before. 'So tell me about your gentleman friend.'
Ruth tittered. 'I wouldn't call him that. After all he is about twenty years younger than me. Very smart. He's retired,' (which makes him at least sixty-three Milly thought), 'but he does own some property that he rents out.'
'So he's well heeled.'
Ruth leant across the table and whispered, 'He's a millionaire.'
'Really?' As they were in Milly's kitchen she wondered why her friend had whispered the words.
'Yes. And so generous. On one of the Dress Nights. You know, posh frocks and dinner jackets,' she expanded at Milly's puzzled look, 'he bought champagne for dinner.' The old lady sat back with a satisfied smile, her brown eyes twinkling.
'Very nice.' Not being a lover of champers Milly didn't know what else to say. And as she knew Ruth didn't drink alcohol wondered why buying a bottle of fizzy wine was such a big deal.
'And before we got off the ship he bought me this.' She pulled a gold chain from under her jumper.
'That's lovely, Ruth. Must have cost quite a bit.'
'Probably. He wouldn't buy rubbish.'
'You didn't choose it?'
'No, it was a total surprise.' But she didn't confess to having bought Josh a parting gift of his favourite aftershave.


I hope you enjoyed the opener and now buy the book, read it, recommend it and - of course - give it a 5* review! For which I will love you forever!

At the moment the book is only available on Kindle - if I receive enough requests for the paperback version, then I will create it. 

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Why Some of us Self-Publish.

What a blessing Amazon is for those of us who seem to have spent most of our lives writing books but not getting published. Obviously at first our books weren't well written. And I confess that my first attempts were embarrassingly awful!

We gradually improved, went to classes or workshops, worked hard and learned our trade. But we still couldn't get published. Why not?

We had excuses and advice from agents and publishers and enough rejection slips to paper a room. The favourite excuse was 'not our type of thing'. A popular piece of advice is 'write about what you know'. So I did. A crime novel set in Spain with the main characters being a Spanish detective and an English hotel rep. Response? 'We don't publish courier books.' Oh what a laugh - it wasn't a courier book. Obviously no one had actually read the manuscript.

Still I kept trying as I know thousands of other writers have done and continue to do.

Now many of us are published - on Kindle (or on some other e-reader) and we sell our books. If your writing isn't any good you don't sell your books! The only way to find out is to go ahead and publish them. If they don't sell find a good editor to advise you where you are going wrong.

For me the best thing about self-publishing is that I don't have to try to mind read as to what agents/publishers think is going to be the next popular type of book. How would they know anyway?

Of course one thing that all self-published writers need is promotion. Which is where you, dear readers, come in. If you like a book then PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, give it a star rating (obviously we all want 5 stars) and recommend it to your friends. If you see a link to the book (or another in that series) on Twitter, Facebook etc. etc. please re-tweet - you know what I mean! We rely on you to spread the word.

In the meantime, thank you all very much for your support. 

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Large bottles of shampoo etc.

This morning I spent ages in the chemist's looking for a small bottle of shampoo. No, not a travel sized one but one that I can hold without dropping it! Of the vast array of shampoos and conditioners I found only ONE. Simple (200ml) - thank you for that one.

I have come to the conclusion that manufacturers of things such as these and shower/body washes aren't covered by the disability act (or whatever its latest name is).

I understand why they use bottles containing 400ml/500ml - it is more profitable for them. Unfortunately for those of us who have hand/finger/wrist problems these size bottles are almost impossible to use. Usually half of the contents end up down the drain because we constantly drop them.

Another thought which I have is, that when you are under the shower your hands are wet.....

No point in complaining to Trading Standards, is there?